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Visit of Dan Dumbacher at the FH Joanneum

Shaping the Future of Aerospace

Dan Dumbacher, executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) visited the FH JOANNEUM on the 14th of June and held a motivational speech about “Shaping the Future of Aerospace”. The AIAA organises the annual “Design-Build-Fly” in which the FH Joanneum is participating for 5 years now. This year’s team made the 3rd place.

We started in the morning with a few presentations about the FH Joanneum and the aviation institute, the joanneum Aeronautics in general, the DBF Team and Team Drone Tech. Later, we had a tour through our laboratory and he tried out the flight simulator.

Shortly past noon Dan held his speech. It was a pleasure to get an insight into space engineering from an insider and to get tips from someone who was involved in projects by the NASA and with so much experience in the space sector. Dan amazed us with his impressive talk and intriguing answers to the questions from the students.

Dan is now executive director of AIAA. Before that he was three decades at NASA, where he  managed the DC-XA vertical landing rocket; served as deputy manager of the X-33 program; and was director of engineering at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. Dan capped his NASA career as the deputy associate administrator in charge of the Space Launch System, Orion crew capsule and related ground systems. Astronauts presented Dan with their Silver Snoopy Award in 2014 for his contributions to spaceflight safety. He joined AIAA in 2018 from Purdue University in Indiana, where he was a professor of engineering practice.

5. General Assembly

The joanneum Aeronautics elected a new board! 

On Thursday, the 21.03.2019 the general assembly of the joaneum Aeronautics took place. After a review of the year’s events which was held by the team leader of the Team Drone Tech and the Design-Build-Fly team, some more formal tasks like the amendment of the club-law and the rules of procedure or the report of the treasurer and auditors took place.

A very interesting part was the presentation of upcoming events and projects. For example, the IONICA in Zell am See, where we plan air displays with Bobby and the HiLi-Copter. Furthermore, the joanneum Aeronautics organize three get-togethers at the campus of the FH Joanneum, where we serve drinks and food to students, lecturers and everyone who wants to join us in a cosy atmosphere. A lot of further projects like a newsletter, an alumni event or new teamwear are going to start within the business of the new board this year. This leads us to the topic of the election.

We are proud to present that the board of the joanneum Aeronautics consists of 50% female and 50% male members. First in history of this association two women lead the executive committee, with Victoria Fill as chairwoman and Annika Dollinger as vice-chairwoman. Responsible for the task of the treasurer is Luis Trojer and with Klaus Graf as the secretary we completed this year’s election. We want to thank all our members, supporters and the FH Joanneum and its employees, without you this successful year would not have been possible. Now, we are looking forward to a year full of challenging but enjoyable tasks!



Automatic Gliding for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles raises the question of how their range and time of flight can be improved. Raphael Vierhauser and Luis Trojer, two team members who are excellent FPV racers and knowledgeable about drone building, face up to this topic in their bachelor’s thesis. One possibility is the use of thermals. To create the necessary simulation environment for the development of centering algorithms, the air movements found in the atmosphere were incorporated. Statistical values were used to implement an almost realistic simulation in MATLAB®.

In order to simulate the flight of an unmanned aerial vehicle a simulation of the aircraft was developed using flight mechanics. The developed autopilot for unpowered airplanes controls the unmanned aerial vehicle. This compensates for disturbances and converts the control commands received from the centering algorithms derived in this work into commands to the actuators of the rudders. The centering algorithms must decide whether the vehicle is in a thermal and whether the thermals are strong and wide enough to gain altitude. If a thermal is detected, the program directs the aircraft in circular orbits around the thermal center. The flightpath must be constantly corrected, as the thermal bubbles move relative to the air. With various centering strategies, height gains of several hundred meters can usually be achieved in the simulations.


In order to test the algorithm, a test platform is needed: In this case, a model sailplane is being used. To calibrate the autopilot, the aerodynamic and geometric characteristics of the plane have to be determined. This was achieved by simulating the aircraft in XFLR5, a program for analyzing profiles, wings and entire airplanes. The flight controller that is being used is a Teensy 3.2 microcontroller board that runs on Arduino C and can be programmed via the Arduino IDE; it runs the program containing autopilot and centering algorithm, as well as reading data from the sensors and sending PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) signals to the actuators. The sensors used are two pressure sensors to calculate airspeed and angle of attack, a combined accelerometer and gyroscope to determine the attitude of the aircraft and a GPS receiver to get the aircraft´s position.

The testing phase is planned to be during spring. We will keep you up to date and hope to be able to report successful first flights.

Concept and Design of a Modular CNS / ATM Receiver System

A high-frequency receiver must be designed very careful and well-considered to get useful signals. Jakob Bauer designed a receiver chain that is additionally modular constructed to be used as an illustrative material in lectures as well as a generally usable flexible receiver. The design process starts with the selection of the most useful receiver structure. For this the elements for a certain application, in this case the reception of GPS-frequency at 1.5 GHz and the reception of the hydrogen line at about 1.4 GHz must be chosen. This concerns a radio frequency bandpass filter, a low-noise amplifier, mixer with a local oscillator and an intermediate frequency receiver in the use receiver chain.


The chosen circuit must be controlled for his efficiency and the signal quality. At first the needed microstrip width of the circuit board must be calculated. Following this a link-budget calculation takes place which adds up all gains and losses of the single elements. Additionally, the noise of the elements is considered. With those two values the signal to noise ratio can be calculated, which gives a good overview of the whole circuit and the output signal.

The second test is about the so-called S-parameters, which are very important at high frequencies. For that a simulations program is used, in which a schematic circuit with all important values around the operating point gets calculated. The output of this analysis takes place via a smith-chart.

After a successful analysis the circuit is constructed in EAGLE and gets manufactured. At the end it gets assembled and tested for its functionality.

Mechanical Conception and Construction of a Dualcopter

Klaus Graf, a team member who is currently doing his master’s degree in aviation, worked on a very interesting project in his first bachelor thesis. A dualcopter in general is an exotic type of multicopter. The realization can pursue in different ways. This project focuses on the concept of the tilt-rotor approach and contains the design, preliminary calculation methods and the manufacturing of two prototypes.

The first and smaller prototype was made to get an inside view of the in-flight-behaviour and to test early control unit designs. To fulfil the requirement of easy replacement, RotorBits® and some 3D printed parts were used. A detailed CAD model in CATIA® also provides the moment of inertia for further control unit designs and simulation purposes.

Expertise and weak points of the first prototype were analysed and taken into consideration for the development of the final prototype. The tilt mechanism was designed to be as rigid as possible, fast and precise to handle the 15” propeller and its deviation moments. Frame plates were milled out of CFRP and aluminium components were manufactured on a lathe to withstand the enormous forces.